Stress often sneaks up on us and overwhelms us before we realize what is happening. Ranging from annoying to debilitating, it has the ability to derail the best-laid plans throughout the normal course of the year.
But, during the holiday season, stress sucks the life out of your fun.
A season of love, gratitude, giving, and sharing can often turn into a stress-fest in 10 seconds flat if you don’t have the proper tools to handle it. It creates hormonal turmoil, triggering, sky-high cortisol levels that derail your hormone train all day long.
And, honey, that’s what we are tackling today.
No time like the present to get a handle on that stress, but let’s start saying NO to those man-handling ways of coping: excess caffeine, less sleep, suck it up, power through, and eventually crash and burn.
No, girl. There’s a better way.
We are going to WOMAN-handle this mess.
THE POWER OF DEEP BREATHING
Science has proven that the quickest and most effective way to get your body back from a stress attack is deep breathing. It deals with your innate reaction to a stressor — the fight-or-flight response — when all of your blood flow gets diverted to your extremities so that you can either tackle the prehistoric bully or run away to safety.
21st-century stressors though aren’t always so straight-forward. You still get short of breath and your body reacts the same way, but it may just be the thought of confrontation or an emotionally-charged podcast rant that gets you fired up or the constant dinging of your phone.
Perceived stress is when your mind just thinks a danger is threatening. Are your in-laws coming over sometime this season? Did you buy the right gifts for everybody? Are you going to have time to get that turkey cooked (and make sure it’s not raw or burnt)? Holidays are ripe with perceived stress. No, none of these things directly threaten your life, but your body reacts the same way anyway.
The solution to regaining control is the same as it was when you were created: deep breathing.
Deep breathing sends messages to your brain that you are able to cope, that danger has subsided, and that you are in control of your body and surroundings once again (whether or not you actually are). Taking a moment to pause and give your body some attention will start you on a journey to balance.
When your mind believes you are in control of the situation, it will tell your adrenals to stop producing cortisol. As this stress hormone decreases its power over your body, your other hormones will rebalance and you will be able to find your calm again.
HERE’S HOW TO BREATHE
I know you’re thinking, ‘Dr. Mariza…I’m pretty sure I know how to breathe.’
That’s what I thought, too, until I learned that there is a strategic way to leverage those breaths to combat stress.
Follow this process with me:
- Close your eyes and push all of the air out of your lungs.
- Now, place your hand on your abdomen and inhale slowly through your nose, but without moving your shoulders. Your diaphragm should slowly expand, blowing your belly out like a balloon.
When you’re full of air, pause and hang. Use this moment to tell yourself a positive mantra. The power of positive suggestions can help you to calm your body and mind. Try on one of these:
I am enough.
I am in charge.
I am in control.
I’ve got this.
- Then slowly exhale through your mouth, pulling your stomach in as if your belly button were attached to a string.
- When you’re empty, hang in that pause and focus on something you are grateful in that moment. It doesn’t have to be big. You can be grateful for chocolate. Or silence. Or that Insta post that made you smile. Whatever brings you peace and joy.
- Then repeat the cycle for 3-5 repetitions.
Developing a habit of doing this every few hours will do wonders to manage your stress during the holiday season and beyond.
Set an alarm on your phone if you think you’ll forget. The best thing you can do for yourself is to develop peaceful habits of self-care to reduce your stress and help your hormones rebalance. Now is a great time to start prioritizing yourself!
TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Even more powerful is to pair this breathing practice with essential oils. Choose your favorite calming aroma and put a drop in your palms. Rub them together, and cup them over your mouth and nose as you inhale. Lavender, Bergamot, Wild Orange, Frankincense, or Roman Chamomile are great choices for instant calm.
My personal favorite is to do this with my Superwoman Blend. It is calming and empowering, enabling me to conquer my anxieties and face whatever the day throws at me. As a bonus, it packs a punch for my hormone balance as well. Here’s the blend so you can get the power, too:
Superwoman Rollerball Blend
Add essential oils to 10 ml glass rollerball bottle. Top off with carrier oil of choice and swirl to combine.
CALM & RESTORE SUPPLEMENT
One of my favorite supplements to combat stress and anxiety, Calm & Restore, is a supplement that I created to have the same ingredient that makes up bioidentical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the main neurotransmitter in our brain responsible for providing quick calming effects in stressful situations. Conveniently store these chewable tablets in your purse and grab one on the go anytime you’re feeling triggered or anxious and enjoy fast relief.
The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is self-care. If you begin to incorporate deep breathing regularly throughout your day and supplement extra calming nutrients when needed, it will begin to be second nature to you when the going gets rough. Treat yourself to a powerful self-care healing routine that will keep your hormones happy throughout the year.Get Calm and Restore here today!